“We all know that dreaded feeling of having to make a sales call. At Digital Butter, we’re lucky enough to have incredible clients who have mentored us along the way with our sales skills. This week the wonderful Mike Palman (aka my sales mentor and co-founder of UK-based sales consulting company The Sales Academy) is here to help us get our sales skills game back on track and discuss some potential sales call mistakes, over to him!” – Robyn Mays
Like it or not selling on the phone is still a hugely effective strategy but it doesn’t always come to us naturally. Luckily, there are some basic sales-related rules to follow to help ensure telephone sales success.
Let’s face it: some people have long difficult names or work for strangely named companies. This isn’t a reason to get the name of their company wrong or, even worse, their name wrong. How would you feel if someone addressed you incorrectly during any kind of discovery call and got the name of your company wrong, too? The chances are that you won’t be making any sales soon.
If the person or company has a difficult name take the time to check beforehand to see if you can get through to a switchboard that will help you check your pronunciation. If there is one, most gatekeepers are prepared to walk you through what the correct pronunciation is. Another idea is to check YouTube and listen to company videos to check how they pronounce their names to avoid this sales call mistake.
2. Sounding as if you are reading a Sales Script
Some people find it comforting to create and then read a script but as so many robots start to engage with us answering the phone you are more than likely to sound like an automated AI-based machine. Robots don’t use “word whiskers” – you know, the ah’s, um’s and err’s. Early on in my career I used a script but would add a few of those to sound better and more human (as I was frankly nervous). I prefer to keep some phrases, keywords or facts available when I make a cold call but I don’t want to sound like a sales robot reared on AI. Practice will also help and soon you may even throw-away any scripts for good!
3. Interrupting A Prospect or Client
I don’t think anyone likes being interrupted whilst in full flow. Being on the phone is difficult as you can’t read the other person’s body language. Perhaps a way to move forward is to show some form of active listening (which is a really important sales skill to hone). Consider the fact that the person you are speaking to may just be having a glass of water or thinking about the interaction between yourselves. To avoid this sales call mistake, remember to start saying yes, okay, sure, etc. as this will help you to listen to a client or prospect’s monologue. Your prospect or client will know that you are listening and have started to digest whatever they have told you.
4. Being Overfamiliar
I simply hate when people refer to me as friend, mate, pal or any other overfamiliar names that they think will win them more sales. I know that I am not the only person who picks up a sales call and hates when the salesperson starts with, “Hello my friend” or worse. I can confirm that I am immediately put off and will do everything in my power to close the call down. It’s not a great sales strategy to even attempt to get on with someone that you don’t know where you have zero rapport. Rapport is built up over weeks or even months so diving straight in as a “cool friend” just won’t cut it.
Avoid this at all costs and ensure that you put the time in to build a solid relationship that respects the prospect.
5. Pitching Too Early
Why waste your valuable time and pitch too early expecting to get an immediate sale? Yes, you have to qualify a prospect but you need to build rapport first (see point 4 above). The danger of pitching too early is that an inexperienced person might even pitch to completely the wrong person. Early in my career we were always instructed never pitch too early and never pitch to the gatekeeper. Pitching too early will simply annoy your prospects and pitching to the gatekeeper is just full of no’s.
6. No Prospect Research
Today we have the biggest library in the world at our fingertips but we find that so many inexperienced salespeople just make a call without researching the company via a quick web search or even looking at their LinkedIn. Both are huge mistakes. LinkedIn will show you potential mutual connections and this can be used as a great icebreaker. It may not be necessary to have an introduction from your connection, but you can and should mention it. Leverage information to help you build a rapport and it will pay you back hundreds of times.
7. No Company Research
As above but even worse is when you don’t take a look at the target company’s website. The website so often gives up-to-date news about the cone, senior appointments as well as the strategy of where they are growing or going. Another little resource that people often forget about is the career page on a company site. This sometimes tells you where the company is going and the skills of the people they are looking for. A quick search will also flag valuable sales-related content that can and should be used to build the company “avatar”.
A quick look at the website can help you orientate your pitch.
8. Using The Wrong Type of Questions
Inexperienced salespeople using the wrong questions can stunt your progress. It is important to look at the kind of questions you will ask your prospect. A big offender is the classic “closed question”. Closed questions can be useful but, as the name suggests, could easily close down a conversation. Think about your objectives and use a closed question if you want to establish some facts but rely more on discovery or open types of questions which will usually provide the information you want and need.
Remember being in sales is easy but being effective in sales is much harder. Salespeople can and should learn throughout their career and should not fall into the trap that many do and use experience as an excuse. Many seasoned sales professionals make huge sales call mistakes. If you are just starting it’s good to learn from others but it isn’t unusual for it to take time before you become hugely effective. But adopting these 8 steps will help you set you on the right path to becoming more effective.
Mike Palman is a Global Master Sales Coach and Author. Mike helps people and businesses do more, do it better and get the results that they want. Mike had a hugely successful career in sales for over 25 years and now helps companies get the sales edge. Mike also delivers his Sales Mastermind Group and continues to help people and companies grow. Mike lives in the UK but can often be found in South Africa or the US. Visit http://www.thesalesacademy.com